While Albany slashes the budget, they suffer

Sharlisa Peterson depends on Barrier Free Living, a homelessness assistance program that could be slashed by budget cuts.

John Aliseo found himself homeless last summer. After a divorce, one of his friends pointed him toward Barrier Free Living, where Aliseo — who has muscular dystrophy — has been provided with housing, occupational therapy and work. (He edits the residency’s newsletter.)

Barrier Free Living is one group threatened under the governor’s proposed budget cuts. Today, the Human Services Council — a coalition of city nonprofits — begins a “Who Cares? I Do” campaign, to highlight programs and people impacted by slashed funding.

The campaign shows how to donate, organize a rally, sign a petition or contact politicians directly, all to ask the government to restore funding.

At Barrier Free Living’s Secret Garden, a program for disabled domestic violence survivors, 25 percent of its budget relies on the state. Alejandrina Cruz, 63, credits her caseworker with giving her the strength to escape abuse. “I feel safe, confident,” she said. With the governor’s cuts, three workers might be let go.  

Queens youth employment program Steps to Success, also facing cuts, helped Tiana Farmer, 20, who “always lashed out.” Now, she works at JFK Airport. Without the program, she said, “I would not be the person I am.” 


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